Drop the Charges Against Ajahnae Smaugh

Larry Krasner, District Attorney of Philidelphia

We need you to tell District Attorney Krasner and the Philadelphia Criminal Court to support trafficking victim Ajahnae Smaugh. Ajahnae was just 14-years-old when she was groomed and solicited for sex by a 59-year-old man. If she is charged as an adult, she could face life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Send our petition to the DA and the court to let them know you support Ajahnae and are tired of the overcriminalization of young black girls.

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To: Larry Krasner, District Attorney of Philidelphia
From: [Your Name]

We strongly urge you to drop the charges for defendant Ajahnae Smaugh. Rather than being seen as the victim of human trafficking she is, she has been criminalized. She was only a 14 year-old child when she was groomed by Al Chernoff, a 59 year-old adult male. It is undisputed that Chernoff solicited sex from a minor that night. Minors cannot consent to sex with an adult, meaning there is no such thing as a child prostitute. Rather, the actions of Chernoff, driving to Ajahnae’s house and bringing her to his residence for the purpose of a sexual act after and promising Ajahnae, a child, an iphone and money is a textbook act of trafficking.

Chernoff’s alleged past girlfriend stated that he was known to have purchased sex in the past. If he wasn’t there to traffic and abuse Ajahnae, what other business could a grown man have with a child he did not know at 3am? Why was he found naked and tied up? His actions and messages prove he was a pedophile with the intent of trafficking and abusing Ajahnae.

The criminal charges against Ajahnae is an example of the overcriminalization of black and brown girls. According to the FBI, Black children comprise 53% of all juvenile prostitution charges, despite being only 14% of the U.S. population. The majority of sex buyers are grown white men. In the state of Pennsylvania, 74% of sex buyers are white men. Once again in Pennsylvania, 70% of prostitution arrests are for selling sex, while only 30% of arrests are for purchasing sex. Why is your office trying to turn Ajahnae from a victim to another statistic? These charges are a clear example of the disproportionate justice in the black and brown community.

Ajahnae Smaugh was a 14-year-old child when a 59-year-old man, Al Chernoff, solicited sex from her. Bringing these charges against her, especially as an adult, turns Ajahnae from a trafficking victim to a criminal. If she is sent to trial, she could face life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. Ajahnae would become another black child failed by the criminal justice system.

There has been a horde of online support for Chernoff, supporters who have prioritized the lives of cats over a young black girl. These supporters have villainized and attacked Ajahnae for years now, targeting her, her family, and her online efforts to spread awareness. The comments have ranged from cruel to plain racist, with one even alluding to lynching Ajahnae.

Ajahnae deserves fair treatment by the justice system, and allowing this angry mob to sway any decisions would be unjust. She deserves the best chance at healing. Keeping her trapped in the justice system and criminalizing her is far from that. Ajahnae Smaugh is a human trafficking victim and needs to be seen as one.

Once again, I strongly urge you to drop the charges for defendant Ajahnae Smaugh and treat her like the trafficking victim she is… one in need of restoration.